News of the WeekAstronomy

Planet Hunters Become Weight Watchers

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Science  16 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5388, pp. 395
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5388.395

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Summary

Although it is 3 years since astronomers first detected a telltale wobble in a nearby star indicating an unseen companion, they could not rule out the possibility that it is a dim star or brown dwarf instead of a planet. But by imaging a flattened disk of dust particles surrounding another recently detected candidate planetary system, two Arizona astronomers were able to deduce, for the first time, the mass of a suspected planet. The object, they calculate, is less than twice the mass of Jupiter--far too light to be a star or a brown dwarf.